30 Sailboat Racing Adventures
I always thought you can't do much with a 30 sailboat but sail around the bays, with an occasional hop to a not so far away harbor, I was wrong.
I found racing sailing in my area and it gave me purpose on the weekends. I got friends for crew and set-off to win one. Some sailboat races are around buoys, some around islands, but in either case you have to know your tides and winds. These are your main concerns, because with tides you want to know where it runs strong and also light.
When running against the tide on your race course (some race courses can be 5 to 10 miles), you definitely want to veer to the lighter side of the tide, but when running with it, you want to stay in the strongest part for that major boost in speed. Your winds are the same way in sailboat racing. In a bay, you will find more wind, possibly closer to shore where the land is warmer, driving the wind onshore. It may be only ½ to 3 knots of wind difference, but staying on course in the middle of the bay where the wind is fickle may lose you ground.
Veterans of sailboat racing know their stuff. I've given up many a trophy to those guys. Once, turning a last buoy and heading to the finish line, the sailboat behind me continued without turning up towards the finish line. Our crew cheered thinking we finally won because it looked like the other sailboat gave up and was heading home. Well, he turned way further up, catching stronger wind and having a better angle to it. He flew by us like we were - well you know - but after each race, you learn more and more. You automatically get to know where the cutting edge is, keeping your groove longer than other sailboats. It's like when you are in a car, you just stop and go where you need to and don't remember you did it. You just do it automatically. See, my racing days were filled with excitement and of course frustration. The races were hours to a few days long! There is that Newport, RI to Bermuda race, which takes up to 6 or 7 days!
I've taken my 30 sailboat through some races with very high wind conditions. They might not start that way, but I've been in some wild ones where crew on other sailboats had to have helicopters remove them for broken bones and other various things. I have been on a race and won a trophy for third for actually drifting the best during the race; there was no wind for 2 hours and for some reason the current grabbed me better, thanks to my deep keel or wide beam. I was certainly happy to take third place! So the more I raced, the more familiar I became with different wind and sea conditions. Where my 30 sailboat rode the best, pulling top speeds without heavy effort on the crew or the boat! You get to feel that groove where you are ripping yet comfortable. It's a combination of your boat's best point of sail, with a mix of using the sailboat's lines and characteristics to its advantage.
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